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Seoul, Tokyo bow to cenotaph for Korean victims

Posted May. 22, 2023 08:01,   

Updated May. 22, 2023 08:01


While on a visit to Hiroshima on the occasion of the G7 Summit, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Sunday paid tribute to Korean victims of the atomic bombing of the city along with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and the two nations’ first ladies. The two heads of state made their first joint visit to the Peace Memorial Park. With Seoul and Tokyo leaving the past behind to restore their cooperative relationship, U.S. President Joe Biden, during his talk with the two Asian allies on Sunday, invited the two leaders to another trilateral talk scheduled in Washington. Added to the Washington Declaration jointly issued by Seoul and Washington, efforts are beefed up by the three allies to take their trilateral cooperative relationship to the next level concerning trilateral action against North Korean nuclear and missile provocations, economic security, and the Indo-Pacific Strategy.

President Yoon and Prime Minister Kishida, along with first lady Kim Keon-hee and Kishida’s wife Yuko, offered flowers to the cenotaph for Korean victims of the city’s atomic bombing and paid a silent tribute for around 10 seconds at the Peace Memorial Park on Sunday morning. Around a dozen of the disaster’s Korean victims stood behind the two leaders – including Park Nam-ju, the former head of the special committee for Korean victims of the atomic bombing, and Kwon Joon-oh, the incumbent head of the organization. The two heads of state gave a nod to the participants who represented the victims.

President Yoon said in a summit talk with Prime Minister Kishida, “As we paid tribute jointly today, it will be remembered as the prime minister’s commemorative message for the Korean victims and his courageous action that will prepare for peace in the next generations. Prime Minister Kishida said, “I prayed in front of the commemorative cenotaph for the Korean victims along with President Yoon and first lady Kim, which holds significance for our bilateral relationship and global peace.” Emphasizing that they had three rounds of talks in the recent two months, he assessed their meetups as a part of considerable improvements in their relationship.

Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington also held a summit on Sunday to discuss ways to upgrade trilateral cooperation regarding North Korea’s illegal nuclear and missile acts and the Indo-Pacific Strategy. The White House announced that President Biden highly commended President Yoon and Prime Minister Kishida for their courage and effort to improve their relations. Additionally, while inviting them to Washington, he also commented that their efforts made the trilateral partnership and the Indo-Pacific Strategy firm strong.

Joo-Young Jeon aimhigh@donga.com